Meeting new students and teachers can make third graders anxious about going back to school after summer vacation. The kids may be strangers to each other and therefore can be shy and reluctant to speak up in front of the group. Ice breakers and other back-to-school activities allow them to get to know their classmates better and feel more comfortable in their new surroundings.
How Do You Do?
This ice breaker helps students learn each other's names. Take the students outside where they have room to run for this game and have them form a large circle. Have one child start by walking around the outside of the circle and stopping behind one student. The child introduces himself with a simple phrase, such as, "Hi, I'm Tom." The other child turns around and introduces himself in the same manner. They shake hands, saying, "How do you do, how do you do, how, do you do?" then run in opposite directions around the circle. The first one back to the open spot wins, and the other student must introduce himself to another student and start the process again. Continue the game until every student has had a chance to introduce himself at least once.
For this project assign students a homework assignment to fill a shoebox with seven things that tell people about themselves. Items can include a family picture, something that represents a sport the child plays or something with her favorite color on it. Have the children present their boxes to the whole class, then pair up the students and have them discuss their boxes more in-depth with their partners.
Divide the students in half and give one group index cards with an addition or subtraction problem on it. Give the other group index cards with the answers. Without speaking, each student must find his partner with the answer or the matching problem. This helps students learn nonverbal communication as well as incorporating some math problems. You can also play the game with social studies questions or other classroom study topics.
Blind Obstacle Course
Set up the desks so that the classroom looks like a maze. Divide your third grade class into two teams, and have each team choose a captain. Blindfold everyone else and have them stand on one side of the room, while the captains are on the other side. Mix up the blindfolded students so that teammates are not next to each other. When you say, "Go," captains must help direct their teams to find all of the their teammates, hold on to each other's shoulders and navigate through the maze. The first team to get all of its teammates through the maze wins. This loud and chaotic team-building game forces students to communicate with each other.
- Back to school! image by Alexey Klementiev from Fotolia.com